Risk Management in Practice Learning Stream

Humanitarians inherently work in places of high fragility, conflict, or instability. These characteristics are part of defining where humanitarian action is needed in the first place and impact their ability of humanitarian actors to accomplish their mission of reducing human suffering.

The humanitarian imperative requires humanitarian organisations to accept a culture of risk in order to operate effectively in such environments. While risk awareness is embeded in the culture of humanitarian work, risk management is not. Therefore, it is critical for NGOs to understand how to identify and manage risk.

In this context, ICVA and PHAP’s fifth online Learning Stream “Risk Management in Practice” provides a platform for the NGO community to share their current practice, discuss, and learn from one another in order to better understand how to manage risks when working in the humanitarian sector and apply it in their day-to-day work.


The “Risk Management in Practice” Learning Stream provides NGO staff, including field, policy and headquarter staff an opportunity to:

  1. make the discussion on risk management more accessible to practitioners and decision-makers;
  2. Examine some of the core risk management issues unique to the humanitarian space;
  3. ensure existing risk management tools and lessons are identified and understood;
  4. explore the avenues available for humanitarian actors to improve how they manage risk in their organisations;
  5. hear from different actors working on these issues on how to build synergies;
  6. understand the challenges, risks, and opportunities for principled and effective humanitarian action, especially at the country and regional levels;
  7. become acquainted with the efforts underway to help NGOs and other actors improve how they manage risk;

The ICVA-PHAP Learning Streams are open to anyone interested in improving their understanding of the risk management in the humanitarian sector.

To get an introduction to the topic of this new Learning Stream, we suggest that you view the ICVA-PHAP webinar  Risky Business: Reframing the fundamentals of risk management for humanitarians (part of the Learning Stream Navigating Change)



Topic 1: Security Risk Management and Duty of Care during COVID-19, 3 June 2020

This event will unpack security risk management and linked issues of duty-of-care in humanitarian programming from the perspective of INGOs, local and national NGOs, Donors and UN agencies, framed around the mounting challenges presented by COVID-19 response.

The event will cover:

  • ICVA SRM paper (coming soon)
  • Duty of Care – including risk transfer and risk sharing
  • COVID-19 specific risk (health, violence against expats, lack of evacuations)
  • Localisation – reliance on local NGOs due to above challenges 



ICVA’s 2020 Annual Conference Protecting principled humanitarian action: an honest conversation on risk”, 19 March 2020

ICVA’s briefing paper “Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce: Localisation in the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response” (30 March)

ICVA’s Risk Management resource page

ICVA briefing riefing paper, "Risk and Humanitarian Culture"

ICVA-PHAP webinar "Risky Business: Reframing the fundamentals of risk management for humanitarians", 21 November 2019

All ICVA briefing papers are available here 

Global Inter-agency Security Forum (GISF) website

InterAction, Resources on NGO Risk Management